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LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF), presented annually by Visual Communications (VC), announced this week that the first batch of films to be screened as part of the festival’s 37th edition, a hybrid event taking place virtually and in person at select movie theaters in the Los Angeles area from September 23 to October 2, 2021.

The festival opens on Thursday, September 23 at the Aratani Theater of the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center in Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles with the Los Angeles premiere of Ann Kaneko’s MANZANAR, DIVERTED: WHEN WATER BECOMES DUST, a poetic take on the unexpected alliance formed by Native Americans, Japanese-American World War II prisoners, and environmentalists to defend their land and water from Los Angeles.

“Visual Communications looks forward to sharing the stories that intersect and converge movements like MANZANAR, DIVERTED,” said Francis Cullado, executive director of Visual Communications. “From emerging to established filmmakers, the festival continues to celebrate artists who are making an impact on our communities.”

Following Opening Night, LAAPFF will exhibit new works as part of Centerpiece Weekend at the Aratani Theater and Regal LA LIVE. Highlights include the Los Angeles premieres of: Iman Zawahry’s AMERICANISH, the first American Muslim rom-com directed by an American Muslim female filmmaker; Sujata Day’s comedy-drama DEFINITION PLEASE, in which she also stars; Christopher Makoto Yogi’s Sundance hit I WAS A SIMPLE MAN, starring Constance Wu; Dante Basco’s directorial debut THE FABULOUS FILIPINO BROTHERS; and Suzanne Kai’s highly anticipated Tribeca crowd pleaser, LIKE A ROLLING STONE: THE LIFE & TIMES OF BEN FONG-TORRES, about legendary Rolling Stone editor and writer Ben Fong-Torres.

LAAPFF is a proud Academy Award®-qualified film festival for the Short Film Awards. The recipient(s) of the Film Festival’s Golden Reel Award for Narrative Short Film are eligible to participate in the Academy Awards® Animated Short Film/Live-Action Short Film category.

This festival is the only one of its kind in the world to have achieved this qualification. Highlights from the short film lineup include the world premiere presentations of: Candace Ho’s CHASING CLOUDS, a narrative short film about a Taiwanese American woman forced to face the harsh realities of her mother’s dementia; Paolo Bitanga’s NIGHT & DAY, a short documentary from the Philippines about a mother’s house that comes to life once a year when her many children return for the holidays; and Dakota Camacho’s FANA’GUYAN, a short dance film that explores ending violence and generating healing through embodiment, intimacy and ancestral creativity. FANA’GUYAN will be featured as part of Pacific Cinewaves, a programming that represents LAAPFF’s commitment to serving the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities from Hawai’i, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Guåhan (Guam), Rapa Nui (Easter Island) ), Samoa and throughout the Pacific.

“It is an honor to work in this landscape and witness the emergence of storytellers from the communities of Asian and Pacific islanders,” said Eseel Borlasa, Programmer & Festival Operations Director of Visual Communications. “Every year, the festival is proud to share these different perspectives, and we hope to continually bridge understanding and build empathy and solidarity among our audience. That collective work of storytelling for impact on the public helps to put values ​​into action. LAAPFF believes in that work and we are proud to be a part of the process.”

Visual Communications is proud to continue their partnership with HBO for the fifth annual HBO Asian Pacific American Visionaries, a short film competition showcasing cinematic storytellers of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.

The finalists were selected from hundreds of entries and judged by a leading panel of HBO executives, industry leaders and fellow APA filmmakers. The three winning films exemplify this year’s competition theme: ‘Leading the Lead’. LITTLE SKY by Jess X. Snow, NEH by Jesse Gi, and UNMOTHERED by Urvashi Pathania will premiere on LAAPFF on September 25 and debut on HBO Max on September 27.

This year, the festival will also continue to host C3, a space where creators come together and celebrate creative communities. These consist of both virtual and in-person panels and conversations.

Founded in 1983, LAAPFF is the largest festival of its kind in Southern California and the premier showcase for the best and brightest Asian Pacific cinema. It was recently named one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by MovieMaker Magazine.

For more than three decades, LAAPFF has presented more than 5,000 films of Asian and Pacific talent and continues to expand its commitment to nurturing new talent and promoting the development of Asian and Pacific islanders both behind and in front of the camera. The festival is proud to be an Oscar® qualifier for the best Academy Award category for short films – live action or animation.

LAAPFF will announce the full lineup on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Ticketing to the general public will be available from Monday, September 13, 2021 at 12 noon PT.

For program information, visit festival.vcmedia.org.

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